National & International

NHS to receive an extra £5.9bn to cut waitlists

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The NHS in England is to receive an extra £5.9bn in this week’s Budget, the government has announced, BBC reports.

The money will be used to help clear the record backlog of people waiting for tests and scans, which has been worsened by the pandemic, and also to buy equipment and improve IT.

Health bodies welcomed the cash, but said staff shortages need to be fixed.

More than five million people are waiting for NHS hospital treatment in England, with hundreds of thousands waiting more than a year.

The £5.9bn, set to be officially announced in Wednesday’s Budget and Spending Review, is on top of the £12bn a year that was announced in September.

That money will be raised through tax increases – the rise in National Insurance and, from 2022, the Health and Social Care Levy – and will be spent on resources such as staffing.

Some of the £5.9bn – £2.3bn – will be used to fund more diagnostic tests, like CT, MRI and ultrasound scans, the government said.

Included in the £5.9bn total is:

  • £1.5bn to be spent on more beds, equipment and new “surgical hubs”, each with four to five surgical theatres to tackle waiting times
  • and £2.1bn to be spent on improving IT and digital technology within the NHS – for example, faster broadband.

Those working in the healthcare sector say they are grateful for the money – but many said it was not enough to keep up with costs and demand.

A body representing healthcare leaders, the NHS Confederation, said the funding “falls short of what is needed to get services completely back on track”.

Image source: The Pharmaceutical Journal

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